Chapter 2:

The Girl With The Dead Dad

The Ibarras

Carmen Ibarra had always been an outstanding student. Top of her class. Beloved by all of her teachers. The star forward of their girls soccer team. She was naturally gifted at almost everything she set out to do. If all of this was true, then why was Miss Perfect sitting solemnly in the Principal's office?Bookmark here

"Carmen, do you know why I called you in today?" Mrs. Chen looked at her student with pity. Carmen had been getting that look a lot lately. She hated it.Bookmark here

"I don't suppose it's to accept another merit award," Carmen sheepishly smiles.Bookmark here

"Not exactly. I wanted to discuss your recent attendance record. In this past week alone you've missed three days of school. You don't happen to have a doctor's note to excuse these absences do you?" Mrs. Chen already knows the answer.Bookmark here

Carmen clears her throat, "I don't. I've just been finding my classes boring lately. You know I haven't gotten anything below an "A" since I accidentally forgot to write my name on my social studies test last year." Bookmark here

"That's great Carmen, but attendance also counts towards your final grade. At this rate, you won't be making Principal's List this semester." Mrs. Chen slides over a record of Carmen's current grades. The student doesn't look fazed.Bookmark here

"Colleges won't look at my middle school transcript. I kind of figured it's about time I go through my rebellious stage. Get it all out of my system before I have to get really serious about my studies, you know? Besides, I'm gonna be able to write a killer college essay about having a dead dad." Bookmark here

Mrs. Chen chokes on the tea she's sipping. Bookmark here

 "It's okay Mrs. Chen, you can mention my dad. It's not a "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" situation," Carmen fake laughs to try and break the tension. Bookmark here

Her principal's tone gets serious, "This might not be my place to ask, but have you been seeking any treatment for your mental health? What you and your family went through was a huge trauma-"Bookmark here

"You're right Mrs. Chen. It's not your place to ask," Carmen cuts her off.Bookmark here

Awkward silence ensues.Bookmark here

"I'll be sure to attend all of my classes. Sorry about worrying you. Can I go now?" Bookmark here

"Of course. If there's anything the school can do for you, please don't hesitate to come see me. Okay?" Mrs. Chen stands to open her office door. Another pity smile. Carmen can't get out of there fast enough. The school bell rings as she exits into the hallway and she lets out a sigh of relief. At least she's free to go for the rest of the day.Bookmark here

From the corner of her ears she hears other students whispering as they pass her in the hallway. Usually invisible to her classmates, Carmen had become a bit of celebrity at her school. Adolescents didn't really know how to treat a peer that had just lost their father. Carmen jogs to her locker, hoping to get out of there before anyone--Bookmark here

"Carmen! I'm so glad I was able to catch you." She gulps at the sound of her name and takes a moment to compose herself. Her locker shuts and the teen comes face to face with the drop dead gorgeous Amber. Bookmark here

Carmen smiles sheepishly, a slight blush stains her cheeks, "What's up?"Bookmark here

"I grabbed your algebra homework for you. The lesson this week was pretty easy, but if you need any help, I'm free this weekend." Amber hands her a folder, "My mom made way too much of her famous chili. She's enlisting the help of anyone willing to help finish it."Bookmark here

 "That sounds yummy, but I’m busy this weekend." Carmen can't help but notice how perfect Amber's eyeliner looks. Gosh she was pretty.Bookmark here

"That's okay! I'll see you on Monday then?" she gives Carmen's arm a friendly squeeze. Bookmark here

"For sure." Carmen's face turns beat red at the sudden touch. The two part ways. As Carmen leaves the school grounds, she's practically floating. You can see the red hearts hovering over her head. She imagines sitting alone in a library with Amber. The two giggling over how easy the math homework is. Amber spoon feeding her chili. Amber holding her hand. Bookmark here

Carmen's teenage daydream is shattered by a cars blaring horn. Her good mood instantly sours. The hearts above her head explode into oblivion. Parked in front of her is Angela's boyfriend's red Jeep Wrangler. The duo wave her over. "Get in! Daisuke's gonna drop us off today."Bookmark here

"No thanks. I'll walk." Carmen doesn't miss a beat as she passes the car. Bookmark here

Much to her dismay, Daisuke drives along side her and motions to his back seat, "Come on little sis. I'll even make a pit stop at Cold Stone. On me!" Bookmark here

Carmen can not STAND Angela's new boy toy. They had just started dating and he was so blindingly perfect.Bookmark here

Beautiful flowing hair that he often wore in a man bun. Bookmark here

High school quarterback.Bookmark here

Annoyingly defined muscles.Bookmark here

Older guy who had a driver's license.Bookmark here

Kind to everyone he met.Bookmark here

He even was an Honor Roll student, a fact that ticked Carmen off the most. Bookmark here

She had no idea how a dunce like her sister was able to snatch him up. He had to be a serial killer, there was no way someone like Daisuke Otonashi actually existed. Her dad would have hated him. Carmen sadly smiles at the thought.Bookmark here

"We're about to go pick up Fanny. It'll be fun! We haven't had a sister hang out in forever." Angela pouts at her.Bookmark here

"I'm an honorary sister for the day! If that's okay with you," Daisuke asks politely.Bookmark here

Carmen internally cringes, "I was just planning on catching up on some homework tonight. School's been super busy lately. You kids have fun." Bookmark here

After one final plea, the couple finally gives up and speeds off. Carmen is finally alone. As she continues her journey home she passes a father with his small daughter seated on top of his shoulders. The two gleefully laugh. Carmen can't get rid of the bitter taste in her mouth.Bookmark here

......Bookmark here

David, now known as Bacon, can't help but feel like he's back in prison. Sure his new digs were an upgrade from the animal shelter, but he felt cramped in the tiny two bedroom apartment. He had learned that Rose was a single mother who worked from home. With her around 24/7 it made it near impossible for him to sneak out. Several times now he had tried to bolt out the front door during the comings and goings of the family, but he had failed each time. This was going to be tougher than he thought.Bookmark here

It had been about a week since he had arrived at his new "home". Bacon sat perched on top of a couch, gazing out the front window. He had a vague idea where he was. From his rough calculations, it would take him about four hours with his stumpy legs to get back to his girls. Not ideal. Bookmark here

Think David, think. There's got to be a way to hitch a ride to Oakland.Bookmark here

Rose peaked down from her computer desk to find Bacon pacing back and forth in their living room. Furry head down, four paws marching heavy on the ground. Such a serious puppy. Bookmark here

"Do you think Bacon could fit into Build a Bear clothes?" Everleigh held up a tiny pink tutu for her mom to see. Bookmark here

"He is not wearing that!" Jacob swooped up Bacon, ready to defend the dog's honor.Bookmark here

"He's a dog. He hardly knows what gender norms are!" Bookmark here

The siblings continue bickering as Bacon squirms his way out of the boy's arms. These two reminded David of his own children. Breaking up fights was one of his fortes. Hopping up onto the couch, the pup uses his nose to fish out the TV remote from the cushions. He turns on the TV with his paw and flips through the channel until he lands on...Bookmark here

Perfect.Bookmark here

An old re-run of Spongebob always got his daughters attentions when they were younger. Bacon places his front paws on the TV screen and gives a couple "yap yaps" to get the kids' attention.Bookmark here

"Look! Bacon's watching TV!" Jacob giggles before settling in next to the dog. Everleigh is quick to follow suit.Bookmark here

"I swear he knows how to operate a remote," Rose gazes at the puppy in wonder. Bacon gulps. Bookmark here

With the kids attention focused on the TV screen, David tries to make a game plan for himself.Bookmark here

Maybe I can fake that I'm ill to get Rose to take me to the vet? Or maybe if I start pooping on the rug she'll take me outside more often. I'm sure I can escape if I can just find a way out that front door! Bookmark here

An advertisement suddenly grabs David's attention.Bookmark here

"Need to get your kids out of the house for the weekend? Come on down to Caillou's World Renowned Carnival! We got rides, games, and entertainment that'll WOW your family! Tickets on sale now for a limited time in Oakland! Caillou's-World-Renowned-Carnival-is-not-responsible-for-any-injuries-sustained-on-our-rides-Please-consult-a-doctor-if-you-have-a-history-with-heart-problems-to-see-if-this-carnival-is-the-right-fit-for-you."Bookmark here

This is my chance!!Bookmark here

Bacon gives a howl and practically dances on his hind legs. Bookmark here

"You wanna go to the carnival Bacon?" Everleigh laughs.Bookmark here

"BARK BARK BARK!" translates to "Your darn right I do!" Bookmark here

"Mom, can we go? Can we can we?" Jacob joins Bacon in his excited jumping.Bookmark here

"I don't know guys, I might have to work this weekend-" Rose cuts herself off at the sight of three pairs of puppy dog eyes fixed on her. She sighs, "After lunch on
Saturday for no more than 3 hours. Deal?"Bookmark here

"Deal!" The kids talk amongst themselves about Bookmark here

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The Ibarras

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